Staten Island, NY — A dramatic video was uploaded to Facebook this week showing an NYPD cop walking toward a man as he points his gun at his face. The man refused to obey the officer, noting he’d done nothing wrong — and, remarkably enough, the cop stood down.
According to the man who posted the video online, Maleek Simmons, he, his cousin, and a friend were finishing up a game of baseball at the park and were walking home. In the beginning of the video, we can see another officer in uniform grabbing one of the men, shoving him to the ground, and removing a bat from his hands.
Simmons claims the officers approached the men and accused them of being in possession of firearms. However, no firearms were found.
As the camera pans right, the officer in plainclothes is seen pointing his pistol at the man filming, repeatedly ordering him to “get on the ground.”
Claiming he had done nothing wrong, the man filming refuses to comply.
“Don’t point your gun at me,” the man tells the officer. “I’m not doing anything wrong… I ain’t getting on the ground.”
After an intense moment, in which we don’t know if the officer is about to shoot or not, he holsters his weapon and walks away. Cleary illustrating that they had nothing on which to detain these young men.
According to police, they were responding to the area because of alleged reports of a large fight and men armed with baseball bats.
The department confirmed that the man in a button-down shirt who pulled the gun on the man filming is indeed with the NYPD. However, no further information about the officers involved has been released.
A written statement from the NYPD’s office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information said officers responded to “911 calls reporting a large fight involving several males armed with baseball bats.”
Staten Island Live reports:
A local law enforcement source with knowledge of the incident told the Advance that the NYPD received a call from a concerned resident who saw about a dozen males walking around the neighborhood with baseball bats.
When police responded, all of the individuals fled the scene with the exception of three males, the source said.
Police drew their guns because at least one of the males put his hand in his pocket, and police were uncertain if he was reaching for a weapon, the source said.
Police ascertained that the males didn’t have weapons, and they were allowed to leave, the source said.
No arrests were made.
According to the police statement, “The officers encountered males in possession of baseball bats. The group was dispersed.”
There was no mention in the police department’s account, however, of any officer pulling any gun.
Naturally, there are people claiming that the men being in possession of a bat somehow makes them guilty of a crime. Indeed, it is entirely possible that these men were up to no good. However, to respond to them with the potential for deadly force, to an incident in which there may or may not have been a crime, is most assuredly against police protocol.
Drawing a firearm prematurely or unnecessarily limits a uniformed member’s options in controlling a situation and may result in an unwarranted or accidental discharge of the firearm. The decision to display or draw a firearm should be based on an articulable belief that the potential for serious physical injury is present. When a uniformed member of the service determines that the potential for serious physical injury is no longer present, the uniformed member of the service will holster the firearm as soon as practicable.
While many people on Simmons’ Facebook post called out the officer for pulling a gun on an unarmed man who had yet to be accused of a crime, others took the side of the cops.
“Walking to him while aiming his gun at him was uncalled for,” said one Facebook user.
“When a cop tells u to do something, u f**king do it,” wrote another person.
“Crazy part about the whole thing is the officer was waving his gun around the entire time and once he realized dude was recording he put it away and tried to talk to him … smh. Glad he started recording because he probably would’ve gotten shot foreal …” said another user, highlighting the importance of filming the police.
Fortunately, this situation was resolved with no loss of freedom and no loss of life — the best possible outcome. Now, however, it will be up to the department to hold this officer accountable for his actions — a difficult task at best.